The very first time The Fear hit me was when I was six or seven years old. We were having Sunday supper and were watching The Wizard of Oz. Everything seemed to be normal. Nothing of note, to the best of my memory, happened that day. This was probably the fourth or fifth time I had seen the film. And then, right when the witch appeared in a cloud of orange smoke in Munchkin Land I got this horrible feeling. I wasn’t afraid of the witch; it wasn’t anything like that. It was a much more general feeling. Everything just seemed wrong, bad, evil. I couldn’t sit still. I had to stand up and move.
I walked across the room – nobody, not my sister, brother, father or mother, seemed to take any particular notice – and sat in a chair in the corner. I figured that if I didn’t watch the movie the feeling would go away. But it didn’t. I walked out of the room, down the hall and around the quiet, empty house. I paced up and down the stairs, went room to room, floor to floor. It took some time, but it did eventually fade away. I never directly associated the feeling with anything, but the movie certainly did seem to have brought it on. I didn’t watch any more of the film that night, nor did I see it for another fifteen years.
For the next few years I had two consistent nightmares. One where a witch lived in the basement and another where I would be sucked in between the walls and into the pipes by some sort of foreboding evil. I saw The Wizard of Oz again sometime later. It was incredible; no horrible feelings. I laughed all the way through. It is one of the best films ever made.
I remember when we bounced in the big chair to The Partridge Family and K-Tel’s Fantastic 22. And I remember when we threw the little metal Santa Claus too high and it smashed through the window and we all ran. There were the trips to the cottage, the puzzles, the rain, the boat trips across the lake.
I remember your pained expressions too, you not wanting to be there, anywhere but with your dumb siblings, away with the crowd, all the excitement and things like that. And I remember not liking you so much for any of that. But it’s just kid’s stuff now, right? We move on, yes? I mean, if you hold things too tight, they drive right into you and there’s nothing left, just petty agendas, seeing everything in the world, except where you came from. And that just goes on until you get to the end and then you wonder what happened.
The Wizard of Oz is not so much a spectacle as it is a wonder. It is the details of the enterprise – recently re-released in 3D – the dialogue and characters as much as the make-up and set design.
When Dorothy plummets with her house into Oz, after the whirling symphonic chaos of the twister, the sequence ends in dead silence broken by Dorothy blurting, “Oh!”These small and wonderful things punctuate the film. A lonely peacock wanders around the Tinman’s house. The Cowardly Lion sings of genuflecting chipmunks. A flying monkey’s face is immersed in poisonous smoke. And Toto, energetically wagging his tail, is in almost every shot, following the troupe on their quest.
Toto watching over all
Yes, the songs and dance numbers are something to behold, but in the end, it’s really all in the fluffy green gloves.
I have to admit that my second book, Fashion for the Apocalypse (1990), is weighed down by excessively elocuted elocrubrations: To describe the beauty of the lake in winter was to strangle the infinite.
Ahmic Lake, Canada
True, the woods did whisper, the ice did blind, the moon did blaze, but these words did not suffice, could not transfer the moment to existence, would never contain the wonder of the silence of sliding feet, the crackle of skimming blades, the scream of a straining engine.
Ahmic Lake, Canada
The writing in Fashion for the Apocalypse is not all bad…or at least as bad:
“The Fear” first hit me was when I was six, watching “The Wizard of Oz” on a Sunday night. Everything seemed normal. My family had finished dinner and were just watching a movie. This was the third time I had seen the film. I loved it.But this time, when the witch appeared in a cloud of orange smoke, a horrible feeling descended on me. I wasn’t afraid of the witch; it wasn’t anything like that. It was much more general. Everything seemed wrong, bad. I couldn’t sit still. I had to stand. I walked across the room – nobody in my family seemed to take any notice – and sat in a chair in the corner. I figured that if I didn’t watch the movie, the feeling would go away. It didn’t. I left the room and went down the hall and found a hard wooden chair in the dark. I waited there. I moved my legs and looked from one dark place to another, like I was trying to shake being drunk.
New York City
I waited. It eventually faded. I never directly associated the feeling with anything, but the movie certainly did seem to have brought it on and did not watch any more of the film that night. For the next few years I had two consistent nightmares. One where a witch lived in the basement and another where I would be sucked in between the walls and into the pipes by some sort of foreboding evil. I saw “The Wizard of Oz” again 15 years later. It was incredible; no horrible feelings. I laughed all the way through. It is, in my mind, one of the best films ever made.